May I introduce myself?
I am the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith, well known to most of the Brotherhood. I was formed by brethren John Thomas, Robert Roberts, and many other faithful defenders of the Truth, as a basis of belief and a doctrinal standard on which to extend fellowship.
Formed almost 130 years ago,I have not changed from the First Principles of the Truth then clearly set out. I have brought unity to the ecclesias that have used me. I have kept false teachers away from the Household.
The only addition made to the original statement was the amendment around the turn of the century when the non-responsibility doctrine was introduced into the ecclesial world. How much trouble was caused, and is still being caused in some places, by this doctrine! How many divisions, heartaches, and misunderstandings arose from this one error! Of course, other items were added, such as paragraphs 32-35, at dates subsequent to 1883.
But there have arisen other problems in the brotherhood, when the clarity of my statements are misunderstood. Of course, there can be no divisions where there is doctrinal agreement; and history has shown that this Statement of Faith is scriptural,workable, and sensible. I have withstood false doctrines of every description, including Partial Inspiration, Clean Flesh, No Priesthood of Christ, Immortal Emergence, and many others.
I have been the basis of reunion from earlier times until now, and in more recent times I was endorsed in the Australian Unity Agreement in Australia. My endorsement is set out in pages 13-15 of the Unity Booklet.
Down through the history of the Truth, I have served faithfully and well to bring peace to those who use me properly. There is no true fellowship where doctrinal agreement is not found. Wrong doctrine in our midst will bring us condemnation at the judgment seat of Christ.
I earnestly ask you to read my appeal. The brotherhood’s future will be safe and secure if there can be agreement on my statements of Truth.
Remember, it takes courage to be a good Christadelphian.
Paul compares the Ecclesia of Christ to the natural body. He said, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ”. A healthy body must be evenly proportioned and balanced. Sores and afflictions must be treated, and if possible, cured. If not, they must be removed. This is exactly what the Lord said in Matthew 5:30. When we stand before Christ, the white robe that he has given us must be spotless, and it will only be spotless if all uphold his truths, as is set out in the Holy Scriptures, of which I am an epitome.
Previous controversies have left many scars in our history. All must be sure that they are not of those who are, causing disunity and division in the Body, or supporting those who are, by a change of teaching. If all stay with me, the BASF, there can be no trouble; no division.
All New Testament writers and speakers, including Christ, warn us over and over of the dangers of losing the Truth. Christ rightly asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?” The answer will be a negative one, if present trends towards doctrinal looseness and a change of teaching continue.
OUR STATEMENT OF FAITH.
I appeal to all faithful brethren and sisters to remember the heritage provided in my pages. Paul reminded his young disciple: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1Timothy 6:20).
As our Statement of Faith, I outline what Christadelphians believe to be the essential gospel of salvation, that which must be believed for salvation, as we read in the Scriptures:
“God hath chosen you to salvation through… belief of the truth” (2Thes. 2:13). “If any preach any other Gospel, let him be accursed” (Gal.1:8). “The Gospel… By which ye are saved,if ye keep in memory” (1Cor. 15:1-2).
The Bible is a large book. Many, many divergent views claim its support. Yet it emphasizes over and over that truth is vitally important, and that ignorance and error alienate from God. It is necessary, therefore, as John said: “Try the spirits… because many false prophets are gone out” (1John 4:1).
It is necessary for sound, harmonious and profitable fellowship and mutual labour in the Truth to be agreed in what is the Bible’s basic message of salvation. That glorious message of hope, briefly outlined in my Statement of Faith, is beautiful and inspiring. It is good, and it is important, for all to keep ourselves constantly refreshed in it.
I, the BASF, believe that any who truly understand the Gospel, who desire it in its simplicity, and who do not have or desire their own pet crotchets, will wholeheartedly and joyfully concur with my clauses expressing divine Truth, and will recognize its value and necessity and importance. I further believe any who do so, are largely protected from errors and crotchets, and from the constant, dangerous, and restless human quest for “some new thing” to tickle the ears. I have thirty clauses with an introduction that is fundamental. Please make sure you carefully read my message; it is your life! Further, your acceptance of being a brother or sister in the Central fellowship is established upon the basis of your own understanding of its clauses, and of its teaching.
My clauses are set out as follows. I have not included all the Scripture quotations listed in my statement, and ask you to carefully examine them as they provide the vital Bible teachings of each of my clauses.
I introduce the important basis of our belief in these words:
That the book currently known as the Bible, consisting of the Scriptures of Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles, is the only source of knowledge concerning God and His purposes, at present extant or available in the earth, and that the same were wholly given by inspiration of God in the writers, and are consequently without error in all parts of them, except such as may be due to errors of transcription or translation.
Notice two vital points.
1. • We have no source of knowledge of God and His purpose other than the Bible. It is here that we must constantly search and study for the instruction of life eternal.
2. • As originally given, by direct inspiration of God, the Bible is wholly and verbally — word for word — letter for letter — infallible and unerring.
This was the view of Christ and his apostles, who quoted it as absolutely final, with implicit trust and faith, basing whole arguments on a single word or even a single letter. Regardless of any specious arguments trying to break down this fact — and there have always been such — we must in simplicity stick right to it to avoid shipwreck of our faith. Jesus said conclusively, “The Scriptures cannot be broken” (John 10:35). He was reasoning from the use of one single word in the Psalms.
I begin my Statement in this way, and ask you to check the Scriptures quoted against each clause. Herein I am listing a few of these quotations for your particular consideration, and some comments of explanation:
CLAUSE 1:That the only true God is He Who was revealed to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, by angelic visitation and vision, and to Moses at the flaming bush (unconsumed) and at Sinai, and Who manifested Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the supreme self-existent Deity, the one Father, dwelling in unapproachable light, yet everywhere present by His Spirit, which is a unity with His person in heaven. He hath out of His Own underived energy, created heaven and earth, and all that in them is.
“I am Yahweh, and there is none else” (Isa.45:5). “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Tim.2:5).
Note: Jesus Christ is a man,and is someone other than the one God. Thus, “one God — And…”
CLAUSE 2: That Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God,begotten of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, without the intervention of man, and afterwards anointed with the same Spirit, without measure, at his baptism.
“A virgin shall be with child” (Mat. 1:23). “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee… therefore that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35).
CLAUSE 3: That the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth on the earth was necessitated by the position and state into which the human race had been brought by the circumstances connected with the first man.
“By man came death; by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1Cor.15:21-22).
CLAUSE 4: That the first man was Adam, whom God created out of the dust of the ground as a living soul, or natural body of life, “very good” in kind and condition, and placed him under a law through which the continuance of life was contingent on obedience.
Adam was the first man, not an evolved creature from animals or sub-men, but created directly by God out of the dust of the ground. The Scriptures are clear on that. Any degree of evolutionary speculation that Adam was not the first man is not sound scriptural Christadelphian teaching. It is the first fatal step to shipwreck of faith.
“Yahweh Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Gen.2:7; Heb. nephesh which means merely ‘creature’).
Thus Adam was not an immortal soul (of which the Scriptures know nothing), but a natural, living creature. This same word nephesh, here translated “soul,” is used four times of the animal creation of Gen. 1. Note also that, when first made, Adam was “very good” — a striking contrast to man’s present condition, as we shall see.
CLAUSE 5: That Adam broke this law, and was adjudged unworthy of immortality, and sentenced to return to the ground from whence he was taken — a sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity.
My statement that “a sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity,” is a vital truth that many have stumbled at, even those claiming the name Christadelphian. This truth is the key to the meaning of the sacrifice of Christ, and was clearly seen by those who composed me, as the foundation truth of the Christadelphian community.
There was no sin in the world or in man before Adam and Eve transgressed. But in Romans 7 Paul describes a very different condition, to which we can all agree by bitter and sorrowful experience — “Sin dwelleth in me” (v. 17); “[in my flesh] dwelleth no good thing” (v. 18); “Sin that dwelleth in me” (v. 18); “The law of sin which is in my members, warring against the law of my mind” (v. 23). David said of the same universal physical condition of the condemned and defiled race: “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psa. 51:5). And Paul said in Galatians 5:17, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit… these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Job also referred to his own condition: “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one” (Job 14:4).
Bro. John Thomas, in The Christadelphian, 1873, page 501, commented: “His character was spotless; but as being the seed of the woman of whom no clean flesh can be born, the seed of Abraham which is not immaculate, be it virgin or Nazarite, his nature was flesh and blood which Paul styles ‘sinful flesh’ or flesh full of sin, a physical quality or principle which makes the flesh mortal; and called ‘sin’ because this property of flesh became its law, as the consequence of transgression.”
Clause 5 describes the physical or corporeal consequences of Adam’s sin. His body and the bodies of all his posterity became subject to the law of sin and death. Therefore the sentence made them possessors of a nature which was subject to death and in which the sin principle reigned. Neither death or the sin principle was part of the nature of Adam and Eve before transgression and sentence.
The word “defile” in this clause of the BASF means to destroy the purity or cleanness of something, thus to corrupt. The defilement indicated in Clause 5 is a physical defilement, as a moral defilement is not capable of being transmitted to one’s posterity. The phrase, “all his posterity” requires that the defilement transmitted to Christ was a physical condition, for he had no moral defilement.
CLAUSE 6: That God, in His kindness, conceived a plan of restoration which, without setting aside His just and necessary law of sin and death, should ultimately rescue the race from destruction, and people the earth with sinless immortals.
God’s “just and necessary law of sin and death” here referred to is that sin must end in death. Sin has no place in God’s universal presence. It cannot be allowed to continue. God does not set aside that vital law of holiness and purity. In His love and wisdom He provided a man who conformed perfectly to it, and He invites us to die completely to ourselves and to enter completely into that man, Christ Jesus, and be saved.
“The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23). “He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb.9:26).
Bro.Robert Roberts, in The Blood of Christ (The Atonement, pages 161,164) wrote: “At the very crisis of transgression and condemnation, He provided a shadow institution, by which, notwithstanding his alienated and condemned position, man might approach God acceptably, in the hope of rectification of his position in a far-off day… There was a third way — a middle way, and that is the way which has been adopted — namely, to enforce the law against sin, and at the same time leave the door open for mercy to repentant and obedient sinners. How such a method could be made consistent with itself has been exhibited to us in the birth, death and resurrection of Christ.”
The defilement of the physical body as set out in Clause 5 is here paralleled in the statement, “His just and necessary law of sin and death” which is the “physical law of his being.” God has provided the means whereby the Edenic sentence can be reversed through the work He has accomplished in and through His Son. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.”
CLAUSE 7: That He inaugurated this plan by making promise to Adam, Abraham and David, and afterwards elaborated it in greater detail through the prophets.
To Adam: “The woman’s seed shall bruise the serpent’s head” (Gen.3:15). To Abraham: “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed” (Gen.22:18). To David: “Thy seed will I establish for ever… I will make him My firstborn… My mercy will I keep for him for evermore” (Ps.89). The prophets: “I will redeem them from death. O grave, I will be thy destruction” (Hos.13:14).
This clause indicates that God will assuredly bring to pass His predetermined purpose of filling the earth with His glory, when He is manifested in a multitude of immortalised beings.
CLAUSE 8: That these promises had reference to Jesus Christ, who was to be raised up in the condemned line of Abraham and David, and who, though wearing their condemned nature, was to obtain a title to resurrection by perfect obedience, and, by dying, abrogate the law of condemnation for himself and all who should believe and obey him.
One of the condemned race had to escape from death in a perfectly righteous way, without any violation or ignoring or setting aside of the righteous law of sin and death. This required that his death be not merely the expiring of life, but the “death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8), which was a sacrificial offering called by the apostle Paul “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20). Having given this unique sacrifice Jesus “abrogated” (which means to render powerless; ineffective; to remove its strength) the “law of condemnation,” “for Himself, and for all those who should believe and obey him,” as this clause requires. Christ was the first beneficiary of his offering.
Christ died in harmony with the law of God because he partook by birth of the condemnation of death that had come upon the race through Adam.
Christ rose in harmony with the law of God because, being perfect in character, it was not righteous that death should hold and possess him. Once the body of sin had died, death had no claim on him. To leave him dead would have been unrighteous. To raise him to life manifested God’s justice and righteousness.
He partook of flesh and blood that, “through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death” (Heb. 2:14; the devil, diabolos, sin in the flesh). “Made of a woman, made under the Law, …to redeem them that were under the Law.” (Gal. 4:4-5).
He had to be “made under the Law” of Moses to be able to redeem those under the Law. Note the significance of this as applied to the law of condemnation on the race through Adam.
“God, sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh… condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). “Being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).
CLAUSE 9: That it was this mission that necessitated the miraculous begettal of Christ of a human mother, enabling him to bear our condemnation, and, at the same time, to be a sinless bearer thereof, and, therefore, one who could rise after suffering the death required by the righteousness of God.
Two things were necessary:
1. • He had to be of the human race, descended from Adam, bearing the same defiled, condemned nature as we; having the same “law of sin” in his members as Paul described.
2. • He had to be perfectly obedient, never once allowing the law of sin to control him in any thought, word or action.
An ordinary man, born of the will of the flesh, could never accomplish this, so God created a specially prepared and strengthened man, but still a real man descended from Adam, of the same sin-and-death stricken race. So the salvation wrought was by the will and power of God, through man, in harmony with the law of holiness.
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). “He was made sin for us who knew no sin” (2Cor. 5:21). “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).
Bro. Roberts, in Nazareth Revisited, page 428, explained: “The divine origin of Christ, as expounded in the writings of the prophets and the apostles, supplies an explanation of every phase in which the gospel narratives exhibit the Lord Jesus Christ, and every utterance that came out of his mouth. They give the key that is beyond the reach alike of those who consider him to have been a mere man, and those whose theology compels them to describe him as eternal God. They account to us for what appear otherwise to be contradictions. They explain to us why in a man, the deportment of God is visible; why in sinful flesh, a sinless character was evolved; why in the impotent seed of Abraham, the power of Abraham’s God should be shown; why a man born as a babe in Bethlehem should speak of coming down from heaven; why a man not yet forty years of age should speak as if he had been contemporary with Abraham; why a man should at once be David’s son and David’s Lord; why a man of own own flesh and blood should assume the authority that belongs to God only, saying, ‘Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well, for so I am’; why of a man it should be said that the world was made by him, that he dwelt in the bosom of the Father, and that he was the image of the invisible God, by whom and for whom all things had been created.”
Clause 9 points out that only through divine begettal could a sinless descendant of Adam be produced, as it is impossible for any born of two human parents to render perfect obedience. Only a sinless one could rise from the dead in the manner that Christ rose. The “death required by the righteousness of God” was a sacrificial one.
CLAUSE 10: That being so begotten of God, and inhabited and used by God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was Emmanuel, God with us, God manifest in the flesh — yet was, during his natural life, of like nature with mortal man, being made of a woman, of the house and lineage of David, and therefore a sufferer, in the days of his flesh, from all the effects that came by Adam’s transgression, including the death that passed upon all men, which he shared by partaking of their physical nature.
God dwelt in Christ; manifested Himself through Christ — and Christ completely and joyfully submitted to God’s use, never for a moment asserting his own will against God who was working in him for the salvation of the race. Paul wrote in Phil.2:13, “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Christ was this — in absolute completion and perfection —
“God was manifest in the flesh” (1Tim. 3:16). “God was in Christ,reconciling the world unto Himself” (2Cor.5:19). “I speak not of myself: the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works” (John 14:10).
Bro. Thomas commented in Eureka, vol.1, pages 202-203 on this matter: “For, if Jesus Anointed did not partake of our nature, but obtained somehow or other, a pure physical organization, or was only ‘a similitude’ such as Daniel beheld by Ulai, then Paul’s testimony is untrue; for he has testified that, ‘forasmuch as the children (of the Deity) are partakers of flesh and blood, Jesus also himself likewise took part of the same,’ and ‘in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren;’ and ‘God sent His own Son in the likeness of Sin’s flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh’ — Heb. 2:14; Rom. 8:3; but if the principle of corruption had not pervaded the flesh of Jesus, or if he were not flesh, he could not have been tried in all points as we; nor could sin have been condemned there; nor could he have ‘borne our sins in his own body, on the tree’.”
Bro. Roberts, in The Christadelphian, 1874, pages 236-7, stated: “If you admit his [Jesus’] body was the same as ours, you are bound to admit that it was dead, because ours is (Rom. 8:10); that it was vile, because ours is (Phil. 3:21); that it was mortal, because ours is (1Cor. 15:53); that it was unclean, because all born of women are (Job. 14:4; Psa. 51:5); that it had the sentence of death in itself, because Paul’s had (2Cor. 1:9); the reason of all which was, that it was produced exactly as ours is, in being made and born of a sinful woman…”
Jesus was Deity manifest in flesh, but was identical in nature to his brethren. He inherited in his body all the physical consequences of Adam’s sin. This is defined in Clause 5 as “a sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity.”
CLAUSE 11: That the message he delivered from God to his kinsmen the Jews, was a call to repentance from every evil work, the assertion of his divine sonship and Jewish kingship; and the proclamation of the glad tidings that God would restore their kingdom through him, and accomplish all things written in the prophets.
The kingdom is restored: Mat. 19:28 — “In the regeneration, ye also [disciples] shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” and thereby accomplish all things in the prophets: Lk. 24:44 — “All things… written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and psalms, concerning me, must be fulfilled.”
CLAUSE 12: That for delivering this message, he was put to death by the Jews and Romans, who were, however, but instruments in the hands of God, for the doing of that which He had determined before to be done — viz., the condemnation of sin in the flesh, through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all, as a propitiation to declare the righteousness of God, as a basis for the remission of sins. All who approach God through His crucified, but risen, representative of Adam’s disobedient race, are forgiven. Therefore, by a figure, his blood cleanseth from sin.
A “propitiation” signifies a mercy seat, a place of mercy, a provision that God’s love has made so that He can righteously extend mercy. Sin had to be openly condemned. The voluntary sacrifice of the life of a perfect man who bore the sin-defiled, condemned nature, must be made to condemn and repudiate sin before all the world, and to show its deadliness in God’s sight. God’s holiness and divine requirements, and His sentence of death on sin, must be manifested, upheld, vindicated, and acknowledged as righteous and just and necessary.
Christ recognized and acknowledged the deadly sin-principle in his flesh, and in all his life he kept it perfectly and completely under control. He vanquished it in himself, and he nailed it to the cross in repudiation and destruction.
“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom. 3:25). “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). “Who needeth not daily as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s, for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (Heb. 7:27). “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9:26-28).
Bro. Thomas, Elpis Israel, pages 130-131 commented: “Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, if it had not existed there. His body was as unclean as the bodies of those he died for; for he was born of a woman and ‘not one’ can bring a clean body out of a defiled body; for ‘that,’ says Jesus himself, ‘which is born of the flesh is flesh’ (Jn. 3:6)… Sinful flesh being the hereditary nature of the Lord Jesus, he was a fit and proper sacrifice for sin; especially as he was himself ‘innocent of the great transgression,’ having been obedient in all things.” On page 101 Bro. Thomas observed: “But here the serpent-power of sin ended. It had stung him to death by the strength of the law, which cursed every one that was hanged upon a tree; Jesus being cursed upon this ground, God ‘condemned sin in the flesh’ through him (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 8:3). Thus was sin, the Prince of the World, condemned, and the world with him according to the existing course of it. But, Jesus rose again, leading captivity captive; and so giving the world an earnest, that the time would come when death should be abolished, and sin, the power of death, destroyed. Sinful flesh was laid upon him, ‘that through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil’ or sin in the flesh (Heb. 2:14); for, ‘for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil’ (1Jn. 3:8).” See also, Bro. Roberts, in The Law of Moses, pp. 175-176.
CLAUSE 13: That on the third day, God raised him from the dead, and exalted him to the heavens as priestly mediator between God and man, in the process of gathering from among them a people who should be saved by the belief and obedience of the Truth.
This clause draws attention to the present work of the Master: for only through him, because of his atoning work, can we approach the high and holy Deity. Thereby is being developed a people for His name (Acts 15:14).
CLAUSE 14: That he is a priest over his over his own house only, and does not intercede for the world, or for professors who are abandoned to disobedience. That he makes intercession for his erring brethren, if they confess and forsake their sins.
Christ is priest and mediator for his own people only. He does not pray for or intercede for the people of the world, nor for wilfully disobedient “believers.” He makes intercession for us to God if sin is confessed and forsaken.
“I pray not for the world, but for them whom Thou hast given me” (John 17:9). “We have an advocate with the Father… If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us.” (1John 2:1; 1:9).
CLAUSE 15: That he sent forth his apostles to proclaim salvation through him, as the only name given under heaven whereby men may be saved.
Christ is the only way of access to God and eternal life. This is fundamental. There are no hazy ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ or ‘maybes’ that any could be saved outside of faithful submission to Christ.
“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1John 5:12). “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
CLAUSE 16: That the way to obtain this salvation is to believe the Gospel they preached, and to take on the name and service of Christ, by being thereupon immersed in water, and continuing patiently in the observance of all things he has commanded, none being recognized as his friends except those who do what he has commanded.
Belief of the Gospel of the Kingdom and baptism into Christ is the only way to get into him, and be part of him, and get life through him. We must get into Christ — within him. Outside of him, the one perfect and divinely acceptable Man, we shall inevitably be destroyed by God’s righteous and necessary law of sin and death. Inside of him — covered by him — we are safe. None are his friends — none are truly in him — who do not devote their whole life to knowing and obeying him. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).
CLAUSE 17: That the Gospel consists of “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.”
“When they believed Philip preaching (literally, gospelizing, preaching the Gospel of) the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized” (Acts 8:12).
CLAUSE 18: That the things of the Kingdom of God are the facts testified concerning the Kingdom of God in the writings of the Prophets and Apostles, and definable as in the next 12 paragraphs (beginning with No. 19).
CLAUSE 19: That God will set up a kingdom in the earth, which will overthrow all others, and change them into “the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ.
“The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom that shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms [the present governments of the world] and it shall stand for ever” (Dan. 2:44). “The meek shall inherit the earth” (Mat. 5:5). “Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).
CLAUSE 20: That for this purpose God will send Jesus Christ personally to the earth at the close of the Times of the Gentiles.
God shall send Jesus Christ at the time of the restitution of all things (Acts 3:20-21). “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven… in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God” (2Thes. 1:7). “This same Jesus… shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
CLAUSE 21: That the kingdom which he will establish will be the kingdom of Israel restored, in the territory it formerly occupied, namely, the land bequeathed for an everlasting possession to Abraham and his seed (the Christ) by covenant.
“Yahweh shall reign over them in Mount Zion… the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem” (Mic.4:7-8). “I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen” (Amos 9:11). “I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, and they shall dwell… forever in the land where your fathers dwelt” (Eze. 37:21-25). “Abraham… sojourned in a land he should afterwards receive as an inheritance” (Heb. 11:8-9). “They shall build the old wastes, raise up the former desolations” (Isa. 61:4).
CLAUSE 22: That this restoration of the Kingdom again to Israel will involve the ingathering of God’s chosen but scattered nation, the Jews; their reinstatement in the land of their fathers, when it shall have been reclaimed from “the desolation of many generations”; the building again of Jerusalem to become “the throne of the Lord” and the metropolis of the whole world.
“The law shall go forth of Zion.” (Mic. 4:2). “He that scattered Israel will gather him…” (Jer. 31:10). “It shall not be plucked up nor thrown down any more forever” (Verse 40). “Jerusalem shall be the throne of Yahweh; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it” (Jer. 3:17). “He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel… the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yahweh” (Isa. 11:12, 9).
CLAUSE 23: That the governing body of the Kingdom so established will be the brethren of Christ, of all generations, developed by resurrection and change, and constituting, with Christ as their head, the collective “seed of Abraham,” in whom all nations will be blessed, and comprising “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets” and all in their age of like faithfulness.
It is the brethren of Christ who shall govern the world.
“To him that overcometh will I give power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev. 2:26-27). “Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom” (Mat. 25:34). “The Kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.” (Dan. 7:27). “At that time (the ‘time of the end’) …many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake… to everlasting life” (Dan.12:1-2). “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ shall rise” (1Thes. 4:16). “Everyone that believeth… I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39). “He shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24).
CLAUSE 24: That at the appearing of Christ prior to the establishment of the Kingdom, the responsible (namely, those who know the revealed will of God, and have been called upon to submit to it), dead and living — obedient and disobedient — will be summoned before his Judgment Seat “to be judged according to their works”; and “receive in body according to what they have done, whether it be good or bad.”
This is the clause that was amended by the brethren in Birmingham as a result of agitation on the resurrectional responsibility question. It was made very clear that responsibility is based upon understanding, and therefore the bracketted clause clarified the matter. This is in accordance with the Scripture. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2Cor. 5:10). “He that rejecteth me… the Word… shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world” (John 3:19). “As Paul reasoned… judgment to come, Felix trembled” (Acts 24:25). “Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27). “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Soon will come the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God Who will render to every man according to his deeds….to them that do not obey the truth…wrath upon every man that doeth evil…Jew first, and also Gentile…as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged….in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus (Rom. 2:5-16). “God… recompense tribulation to them that trouble you… when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven… taking vengeance on them that obey not the gospel… who shall be punished with everlasting destruction” (2Thes. 1-9). This “ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. Because He hath appointed a day in which He will judge [Gr. krino: never means rule] the world… by [Christ]” (Acts 17:30-31). “Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven… Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Mat. 12:32-36).
CLAUSE 25: That the unfaithful will be consigned to shame and “the second death,” and the faithful invested with immortality, and exalted to reign with Jesus as joint heirs of the Kingdom, co-possessors of the earth, and joint administrators of God’s authority among men in everything.
“Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall arise: some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan.12:2). “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, but the unbelieving… shall have their part in the second death” (Rev. 21:7-8). “The meek shall inherit the earth… the wicked shall not be” (Psa. 37:9-11). Abraham was promised that he should inherit the world (Rom. 4:13). “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:29). “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me” (Lk. 22:29).
CLAUSE 26: That the Kingdom of God, thus constituted, will continue a thousand years, during which sin and death will continue among earth’s subject inhabitants, though in a much milder degree than now.
“They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4). “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). “The child shall die an hundred years old” (Isa. 65:20).
CLAUSE 27: That a law will be established which shall go forth to the nations for their “instruction in righteousness,” resulting in the abolition of war to the ends of the earth, and the “filling of the earth with the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea.”
“The law shall go forth of Zion… nation shall not lift up a sword against nation… they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid” (Mic. 4:2-4).
“With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth… the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:4-9).
Here is a striking and beautiful picture of universal peace and justice and safety and prosperity on earth, linked with righteousness and the knowledge of God.
CLAUSE 28: That the mission of the Kingdom will be to subdue all enemies, and finally death itself, by opening up the way of life to the nations, which they will enter by faith during the thousand years, and (in reality) at their close.
“He [Jesus] must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1Cor. 15:25-26).
“Everyone that is left of the nations [after the worldwide judgments at Christ’s return]… even shall go up from year to year to worship the king, Yahweh Sabaoth, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16).
This shall be enforced with penalties for disobedience.
“In that day there shall be one Yahweh, and His Name one” (Zech. 14:9).
His rule will be openly manifested and enforced, and all will be compelled to submit and obey. No rival rulers or religions will be permitted to exist, as in today’s terrible Babel and strife.
Due to man’s sin, the earth and its produce — animal and vegetable — were cursed. Nature was set at war. But in the millennial rule of Christ, the curse will be lifted and all nature be in peace and harmony.
CLAUSE 29: That at the close of the thousand years, there will be a general resurrection and judgment, resulting in the final extinction of the wicked, and the immortalisation of those who shall have established their title (under the grace of God) to eternal life during the thousand years.
Christ’s 1000 year reign on earth is a transition period leading to the final abolition of sin, mortality and death.
“And when the 1000 years are expired, satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations” (Rev. 20:7-8).
Sin-human nature, the diabolos — bound and restrained during the 1000 years, will be briefly allowed free reign to test faith, and to bring issues to a head for the final resurrection and judgment.
As a result of the last judgment, death and the grave are abolished. There is, henceforth, no dying, no burying; all the wicked will have been destroyed; all the righteous will have been given everlasting life.
CLAUSE 30: That the government will then be delivered up by Jesus to the Father, who will manifest Himself as the “All-in-All”; sin and death having been taken out of the way, and the race completely restored to the friendship of the Deity.
Herein is depicted the final completion of God’s gracious purpose with mankind.
“And when all things shall be subdued unto him [Christ], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (1Cor. 15:28). “The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them… and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying,for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:3-7).
Beyond this lie the endless ages of divine strength and joy for the people of God — equal unto the angels, neither can they die any more — “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
Let us, in this brief moment of the passing present, have the simple, basic commonsense and wisdom to cast away every thing else, and devote all our efforts and attention to the very limit of our ability to laying hold on the glories of eternity. What unbelievable folly to do anything short of this!
Doctrines to be Rejected
(With Explanations Expressed Positively — in italics)
1. We reject that the Bible is only partly the work of inspiration — or if wholly so, contains errors which inspiration has allowed. [The Bible, in its original text, is altogether the work of inspiration, and that God has been the true author of every part of His Word, thereby constituting it infallible — 2Tim. 3:16; 2Pet. 1:19-21.]
2. We reject that God is three persons. [The doctrine of the trinity being false, it remains that God is a Being of Spirit; the Lord Jesus Christ is His Son, born of the virgin Mary; the Holy Spirit is His power — 1Tim. 2:5; Jn. 1:14; Lk. 24:49.]
3. We reject that the Son of God was co-eternal with the Father. [Jesus was begotten of the virgin Mary; he was only “known” beforehand in the mind and purpose of Yahweh from the beginning — Gal. 4:4; Jn. 1:1].
4. We reject that Christ was born with a “free life”. [A “free life” signifies that Christ’s nature was not under Adamic condemnation as is that of all other members of the human race, and that therefore his sacrifice was a substitute for the “lives” of others. However, he needed to obtain redemption himself in order to redeem his “brethren” — Gal 4:4; 1Tim. 2:6; Heb. 9:12.]
5. We reject that Christ’s nature was immaculate, or that he was of a different nature from other men. [Through his birth he inherited a nature sin-affected, and destined to death, being mortal, as all others — Heb. 2:14.]
6. We reject that the Holy Spirit is a person distinct from the Father. [The Holy Spirit is the exclusive power which emanates only from God to perform His determination — Lk. 24:49.]
7. We reject that man has an immortal soul. [The soul of man defines his being, his life, his existence; and is related to his attitude and emotions. He is wholly mortal, and has no immortal essence hereditarily.]
8. We reject that man consciously exists in death. [At death, man ceases to exist in every respect. He has no consciousness in death — Ecc. 3:19; Psa. 49:17-20.]
9. We reject that the wicked will suffer eternal torture in hell. [The wicked are destined to eternal oblivion in the grave, excepting only those of their number who are answerable to God and will be raised to condemnation, to return eternally to the grave. — 2Thes. 1:8-9.]
10. We reject that the righteous will ascend to the kingdoms beyond the skies when they die. [None ascend to heaven; the Lord Jesus being the only exception, and in this case for the purpose of his continuing mediatorial work. The righteous await the return of Christ for the bestowal of immortality — Jn . 3:13.]
11. We reject that the devil is a supernatural personal being. [The devil is variously manifested as that which falsely “accuses.” It is the manifestation of the ungodly characteristics of sin’s flesh, and will cease to exist when sin is ultimately destroyed — 1Pet. 5:8; Rev. 20:10.]
12. We reject that the Kingdom of God is “the church.” [The Kingdom of God is a divine political empire to be established on earth at the return of Jesus Christ. — Isa. 2:2-5]
13. We reject that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ merely. [The gospel includes the covenants of promise granted to Abraham and David and involves the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth — Gal. 3:8.]
14. We reject that Christ will not come until the close of the thousand years. [Jesus Christ returns to establish the millennium, and will reign as king during that period — 1Cor. 15:24-29; Rev. 20:6.]
15. We reject that the tribunal of Christ, when he comes, is not for the judgment of saints, but merely to divide among them different degrees of reward. [The Judgment seat of Christ is for the purpose of revealing the motives, actions and characteristics of all the responsible, and to prepare the righteous for the granting of immortality — Rom. 14:10; 2Cor. 5:10.]
16. We reject that the resurrection is confined to the faithful. [The resurrection will involve all who have known the Will of God, including those who have rejected that Will and those who have failed to uphold it in a faithful life — Jn. 12:48; 9:39-41; 15:22; Acts 15:24.]
17. We reject that the dead rise in an immortal state. [The dead come from the grave in the same state as they entered it; they will remain mortal as they appear before the judgment seat.]
18. We reject that the subject-nations of the thousand years are immortal. [The nations will consist of mortal men and women, subject to the laws of Jesus Christ — Isa. 65:20.]
19. We reject that the law of Moses is binding on believers of the gospel. [The Law being fulfilled in Jesus Christ, its demands are not binding upon Christ’s disciples, as they are now subject to his commandments — Heb. 8:13.]
20. We reject that the observance of Sunday is a matter of duty. [Although the “first day” is commonly used for remembrance of the Christ-covenant, there is no obligation to limit such observance to a Sunday. It is a matter of “as oft as we do so,” whatever the day — 1Cor. 11:25.]
21. We reject that baby sprinkling is a doctrine of Scripture. [Baptism is only valid upon a confession of understanding the complete Will and purpose of God. It is the outward manifestation of an inner conviction — Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12.]
22. We reject that “heathens,” idiots, pagans, and very young children will be saved. [Salvation is based upon a reasonable and logical understanding of the Truth; those who are foreign to the gospel, who lack the capacity to perceive its responsibilities; or who are unable to comprehend, are outside the sphere of salvation — Acts 8:12.]
23. We reject that man can be saved by morality or sincerity, without the gospel. [Morality and sincerity must be accompanied by an acknowledgement of the gospel for salvation — Acts 10:1-6.]
24. We reject that the gospel alone will save, without the obedience of Christ’s commandments. [Obedience to the commandments is a responsibility required of all believers; salvation will be determined upon the application of faith and obedience. Rev. 22:14; Mat. 7:26; 2Pet. 2:21; Mat. 28:20; Gal. 6:2]
25. We reject that a man cannot believe without possessing the Spirit of God. [In this case, the “Spirit of God” identifies a direct, miraculous influence from God in a person’s life. Belief comes from understanding the Word of Truth.]
26. We reject that men are pre-destined to salvation unconditionally. [Salvation is based upon a personal decision by a believer to uphold God’s Truth, and is dependent upon the grace of God — Eph. 2:8.]
27. We reject that there is no sin in the flesh. [The flesh is hereditarily related to sin, caused by the transgression of Adam, the effects of which have passed upon all men, including the Lord Jesus Christ — 2Cor. 5:21.]
28. We reject that Joseph was the actual father of Jesus. [Joseph was his guardian; Yahweh, through His Spirit acting on the virgin Mary, was his Father — Lk. 1:35.]
29. We reject that the earth will be destroyed. [The earth has been created for Yahweh’s glory, and will never be destroyed — Psa. 37:11; Num. 14:21.]
30. We reject that baptism is not necessary to salvation. [Baptism establishes a covenant-relationship, and is an act of obedience required for salvation — Acts 2:38.]
31. We reject that a knowledge of the Truth is not necessary to make baptism valid. [Baptism is only valid upon a knowledge of God’s revealed will and purpose, and an open declaration and confession thereof — Acts 8:12.]
32. We reject that some meats are to be refused on the score of uncleanness. [No foods are forbidden on the grounds of divine law or ceremonial defilement; such decisions are a matter of personal conscience — 1Cor. 6:11; Col. 2:16; Mk. 7:15.]
33. We reject that the English are the ten tribes of Israel, whose prosperity is a fulfilment of the promises made concerning Ephraim. [The ten tribes comprise the Jewish people in dispersion, descendants of Shem. The English people are descendants of Japheth, and do not form part of natural Israel — 1Pet. 1:1; Jas 1:1.]
34. We reject that marriage with an unbeliever is lawful. [Marriage with the unbeliever, or with a divorced person whose spouse is living, is forbidden by the law of Christ — 1Cor. 7:39; Mk. 10:8-12.]
35. We reject that we are at liberty to serve in the armed forces, in the police force, take part in jury duty or politics, or recover debts by legal coercion. [These constitute elements of society and its law-enforcement requirements, of which the believer will have no part. — Jn . 17:16]
36. We reject that Holy Spirit Gifts are available today. [These special and miraculous personal gifts were limited to the apostolic era, and are not manifested today — 1Cor. 13:8-10.]
37. We reject that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was not required for the cleansing of his sin nature. [The Lord's sacrifice was necessary for his own redemption. His sacrifice was a public demonstration that his flesh was rightly related to death and a declaration of the righteousness of God that required the offering of his life in devotion to Him. By his sacrifice the ungodly propensities (diabolos) of his nature was destroyed (Heb. 2:14; 9:12; 7:27), thus providing for the granting of immortality.
38. We reject that the Bible account of creation is figurative, or parabolic, of a type of organic evolution in which all living things evolved from simpler varieties. [The record of Genesis 1-3 describes the literal work of God in creating this world and its creatures out of the previous void and chaos. Each day was a period of 24 hours duration, and does not permit an evolutionary process].